• View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking towards San Francisco at sunrise.

    Golden Gate

    National Recreation Area California

Parks for the People - Marin County Main Panel

The lands of Marin County are a semi-wilderness next door to San Francisco, north of the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. These lands are comprised of rolling hills filled with wildlife, stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Native American sites, cattle ranches, and historic military forts of coastal defense.

 
John Muir and William Kent

John Muir and William Kent, 1912.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA 32470. 0313

Muir Woods National Monument

Where: 559 acres of land located 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge
When: 1908, 1972
Who/How:

  • 1905: Congressman and Mrs. William Kent purchased land from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company to protect native redwoods and preserve the surrounding mountains.
  • 1908: President Theodore Roosevelt established Muir Woods National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906; Kent insisted it be named for naturalist John Muir.
  • 1972: P.L. 92-589, became a unit in the GGNRA.

Why:

  • First national park site created from land donated by a private individual.
  • Includes one of the few remaining old-growth coast redwood forests in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Muir Woods also features red alders, California big leaf maples, tan bark oaks, Douglas fir, ferns, and fungi. Wildlife includes the endangered Coho salmon, Pacific wren, woodpeckers, owls, deer, chipmunks, skunks, river otters, and squirrels.
 
Stewart Ranch in Olema Valley

Stewart Ranch, Tennessee Valley.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA 35332

Olema Valley

Where: 10 miles of land between Tomales Bay and Bolinas
When: 1972
Who/How:

  • 1972: P.L. 92-589 included areas of Olema Valley.
  • Private land purchased from owners to preserve ranches and west Marin open space; owners retained option to maintain residences and work the land for 25 years or for the owner's lifetime with special use permits for cattle grazing.

Why:

  • Preserves site of a significant dairy industry which began in 1857 and thrived for over 100 years.
  • Protects borders with neighboring Point Reyes National Seashore.
 
Tennessee Valley Rancher

Dorothy Silva’s grandfather standing in a field with dog, Tennessee Valley, 1920.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA 17928.09

Tennessee Valley

Where: Among the rolling hills of Mill Valley in southwestern Marin County
When: 1972, 1974
Who/How:

  • 1972: P.L. 92-589 included areas of Tennessee Valley.
  • 1974: Boundary revisions drawn by the People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area resulted in the addition of 400 Tennessee Valley acres to the GGNRA.

Why:

  • Tennessee Valley and Tennessee Cove named for the SS Tennessee, a ship that grounded on the beach in fog in 1853. Captain Mellus saved 550 passengers and cargo but lost the ship.
  • Tennessee Valley' s wilderness landscape is home to raptors, coyotes, deer, and bobcats, and also features plant specimens such as the California poppy, sticky monkey flower, and lupine.
 
Overlooking fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite

NPS Ranger Yuri Fedeshoff shares the history of Fort Cronkhite with a group of school children.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA 18326

Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite

Where: Southwestern edge of Marin County
When: 1974
Who/How:

  • 1972: P.L. 92-589 incorporated both forts into the GGNRA, though some Army use continued for about 20 years.
  • 1974: Both forts formally transferred from the Army to the NPS.

Why:

  • Fort Cronkhite is the Bay Area's best preserved example of a World War II mobilization post.
  • Fort Barry military construction spans centuries of defense from Endicott Era (1901-1910) gun emplacements to the Nike missiles of the Cold War.
 
Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse, circa 1908-1912.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA-3176

Point Bonita

Where: Extreme southwestern tip of the Marin Headlands and Fort Barry
When: 1972
Who/How:

  • 1855: Lighthouse was built by the Lighthouse Board, an organization predating the U.S. Coast Guard, which was established in 1915.
  • 1972: P.L. 92-589 included Point Bonita.
  • 1982: Although the U.S. Coast Guard retained ownership of the lighthouse, the GGNRA began to provide public programs and resource protection at the site.
  • 1984: Lighthouse opened for NPS-guided tours.

Why:

  • Last manned lighthouse on the California coast; remains an active U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse after 150 years.
 
Fort Baker 1925 and  1978

Top: Fort Baker, 1925.  Bottom: Fort Baker, circa 1978.

Top: Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA 32487  Bottom: Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, GOGA 35301.0903

Fort Baker

Where: Southeast corner of the Marin Peninsula, near the north end of Golden Gate Bridge; also includes a small area at the west end of the Baker-Barry Tunnel
When: 1973, 2002
Who/How:

  • 1972: P.L. 92-589 included areas of Fort Baker.
  • 1973: Western portions of Fort Baker transferred to the GGNRA.
  • 2002: East Fort Baker formally decommissioned and transferred to the GGNRA.

Why:

  • Fort Baker preserves the park's most complete example of U.S. Army Endicott Era coastal defense construction.
  • The natural beauty and open space surrounding the fort is a valuable addition to the national park.
 

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